Women in Space Science

Young students participate in hands-on, minds-on science at the Women In Space Science Awards Celebration

Women in Space Science Award Celebration

The annual Women in Space Science (WISS) Award recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with the goal of inspiring young women to pursue careers in these disciplines. The celebration features a luncheon reception for event attendees and a keynote presentation given by this year’s honoree. The highlight of the event is an afternoon program immediately following the luncheon. Approximately 250 young women from Chicago-area public schools participate in an afternoon program of engaging STEM workshops. The 2016 award luncheon was held at The Drake Hotel on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

The Women in Space Science Award Celebration raises funds to support the Adler’s STEM education programming.

2016 Honoree

Wendy Freedman
Photo Credit: John Zich

The Adler presented the 2016 Women In Space Science award to Professor Wendy L. Freedman. Professor Freedman is a Canadian-American astronomer best known for her measurement of the Hubble Constant. Her principle research interests are in observational cosmology, measuring the current and past expansion rates of the Universe, and on characterizing dark energy—the mysterious force that causes the Universe to accelerate its expansion.

Professor Freedman is the John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. She joined the university in 2014 following a distinguished thirty-year career at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California. At Carnegie, Freedman was a co-leader of an international team of 30 astronomers on the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project, a program to establish the distance scale of the universe and measure the Hubble Constant—the rate at which the Universe is expanding. While serving as the Crawford H. Greenewalt Director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena and Las Campanas, Chile, Professor Freedman initiated the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project and served as chair of the board of directors from its inception in 2003 until 2015. 

Professor Freedman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society.

Educational Program

The afternoon program is for Chicago-area young women currently enrolled in 7th, 8th, or 9th grade and their teachers and chaperones. This program benefits young women interested in STEM, as well as young women with strong potential who could benefit from further STEM exploration. Adler astronomers and educators facilitate hands-on STEM activities. This is an opportunity for students to apply science and technology in an engaging environment. Students, teachers, and chaperones will explore the diverse meaning of STEM with a space science focus through engaging workshops and activities.

2016 Award Celebration Chairs

The 2016 Women in Space Science Award Celebration was chaired by Erika Lautman Bartelstein, with co-chair Pamela Pohl and subcommittee chairs Tanya R. Silvio, Lisa H. Bertagna, Elisa Primavera-Bailey, and Adler Women’s Board founder Linda I. Celesia. The event is open to the public.

Interested in more information or sponsoring a future event?

Please email us at wiss@adlerplanetarium.org.

Learn more about future sponsorship opportunities here.

2016 Platinum Sponsor

Erika Lautman Bartelstein

2016 Gold Sponsors






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